After our recent success with pupusas, Sabine and I made tamales for the first time this weekend. This reminded Sabine of the time we had a party a couple of years ago when I went to pick up a big order of tamales in Woodside and got lost, missing the first hour of the festivities.
The thing is, after living in Queens for five years I’m still not sure which way is north. Although I’m well aware that in Manhattan the Queens-bound 7 train is headed east, in my mind it magically points north as soon as it crosses the East River.
I’m grateful for Manhattan’s grid, and helpless outside of it. Sometime back in the ’90s I dated a woman who lived in the West Village, where the streets are not numbered, and when they are they don’t make any sense. (Explain to me how West 4th can intersect West 10th.) Every time I went out to run an errand by myself there was a real risk that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back.
My weak sense of direction worries Sabine. “What are you going to do when you’re old?” she asks. I don’t understand what getting old has to do with it – I’ve had a terrible sense of direction all my life. In my early twenties I used to drive around Houston with a map unfolded over the steering wheel. And it’s not clear what she imagines will happen to me anyway. Where will I be lost that I can’t ask for directions? A forest? The desert? And if that’s the case, why the hell am I there by myself if I’m so old and helpless?
Besides, she should be worrying about herself. She can’t find anything. Not only can’t she find anything, every time she loses something she’s convinced it’s lost forever, despite the fact that I find whatever it is for her time and time again. Perhaps that’s her real concern, she’s afraid that I will get lost and she won’t be able to find me. If that’s the problem, she should rest easy. The woman in the West Village found someone else, and from all accounts she’s very happy. Why shouldn’t Sabine be able to do the same?